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January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Here are the things that you need to know…

The main types of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma of the cervix. These types are based on the specific cervical tissue from which cervical cancer originates. About 80% of cervical carcinomas are squamous cancers and 20% are adenocarcinomas.

What are the Risk Factors?

  • Infection by the human papillomavirus virus (HPV)

  • Becoming sexually active at a young age and having multiple sexual partners

  • Smoking. Women who smoke are about twice as likely as non-smokers to get cervical cancer.

  • Long term use of oral contraceptives

  • Diet Low in Fruits and Vegetables

  • Family History of cervical cancer

What are some common Signs and Symptoms?

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding. For example, bleeding between cycles or post-menopausal bleeding.

  • Unusual vaginal discharge

  • Pelvic pain

  • Swelling of the legs

  • Problems urinating or having a bowel movement

  • Blood in the urine

Are there Screening Guidelines established for cervical cancer?

Yes! According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer screening should begin at age 25 through age 65.

Screening consists of:

  • Pap test every 3 years and HPV test every 5 years OR

  • Pap test and HPV test together every 5 years

What can we do for Cervical Cancer Prevention?

  • Regular testing with Pap tests and HPV testing as advised

  • HPV Vaccination as determined by patient, parents, and medical care provider

  • Practice safe sex with condom use and limit the number of sexual partners

  • Avoid cigarette use and exposure to cigarette smoke

  • Maintain a diet high in fruits and vegetables, especially those foods rich in Vitamin C, zinc, carotenoids and indole-3-carbinol (I3C)

Vitamin C rich foods: Parsley, kale, kiwi, bell peppers, citrus, strawberries, and black currants.

Carotenoid rich foods: Carrots, orange peppers, squash, pumpkin, cantaloupe, and sweet potato.

Zinc rich foods: Seeds (pumpkin, sesame, hemp), legumes, seafood, dark chocolate and whole grains.

Cruciferous vegetables for I3C content: Broccoli, kale, collards, brussels, broccoli sprouts, cabbage, water cress, bok choy, and radishes.

In Health,

Dr. Aminah Keats

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